It’s natural to have feelings of anger sometimes, especially when things aren’t going your way. But if you’re worried that you might have anger issues, then learning a little more about the causes and solutions can help you tackle it and move on.
What is anger?
We all know how it feels to get angry. It’s that feeling when the frustration builds up inside you – until you snap and say or do something in the heat of the moment that you might regret later. Often, anger can be a response to something that’s going on around us, like being let down, misunderstood or badly treated. But if you get very angry easily, it might be down to a deeper issue, like a traumatic event that happened to you in the past.
What causes an anger problem?
Life is full of testing moments that can potentially make us angry. Maybe you’ve been abused or threatened, or blamed for something you didn’t do, or something important hasn’t gone according to plan. But you might notice how some people brush off their setbacks with little fuss, while others grow so angry that they become abusive and even dangerous.
Many experts believe that how we deal with difficult situations is down to our upbringing and experiences. Sometimes, people who deal badly with anger come from a family background where their parents were often angry. For others, it’s because they were told never to express their anger as children, and swallowed those feelings down – only for them to boil over in the future. You might witness something upsetting as a child, but weren’t able to process your emotions at the time – now they boil over as anger.
How do I know if I’m suffering from an anger problem?
You shouldn’t worry about occasional feelings of anger. Expressing anger can actually give us greater focus, helping us to react effectively to threats and pursue the things we want. Bottling it up can be unhealthy in the long-run. But if you find yourself getting angry every day, expressing your anger through destructive behaviour, upsetting or hurting the people you care about, or ruining the good things in your life, you might have an anger issue. Keep reading to find out how to help yourself and get support.
How can I help myself deal with anger?
It can be hard to calm yourself down during an outburst of anger. Fortunately, there are ways that we can stay in charge of our emotions and defuse anger before it causes problems.
– Be aware of the warning signs: these are different for everyone, but could include a racing heart and faster breathing, a tensed body, tapping feet and a sensation of feeling hot and prickly. When you recognise that you’re about to get angry, make a conscious decision to deal with the problem another way.
– Step back from the problem: when you’re stressed by a situation, getting some headspace can help you get some perspective and cool off. Distract yourself by taking a walk, playing a musical instrument or talking to a friend – you’d be surprised how it helps your anger to slip away.
– Teach yourself to relax: breathing slowly while counting to ten is a simple way to take yourself out of a situation and reset your anger. Try to consciously relax every part of your body. Some people find it helpful to channel their anger into a (non-harmful) physical pursuit, like throwing a pillow, lifting weights or playing a loud chord on a guitar. You could also try practising meditation and mindfulness techniques to become calmer in the long-term.
– Avoid the situations and people that make you angry: this isn’t always easy or practical, but if you know that a particular environment or person brings out your anger, don’t voluntarily put yourself into that situation.
How can I get support?
If you feel you need help for your anger, then it’s good to talk to someone you trust – sharing how you feel with a parent, friend or teacher can make a big difference.
There are lots of treatments and support networks available. The NHS Moodzone can answer many of your initial questions (see http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/about-anger.aspx).
If you live in Gloucestershire and are aged 9-21, you can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. TIC+ works hard at raising funds so they can arrange for a counsellor to see you for free, all you need to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to arrange an appointment. We know it can be hard to take that first step but, like the other young people we’ve helped, you’ll be so glad you did.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Childline on 0800 1111, NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!